Back Free for teachers: Two essential histories of twentieth-century Americans at war

For the past two years, Library of America has been able to send free copies of its titles The Essential Hamilton (in 2017) and American Speeches (last year) to secondary school teachers of history and social studies in all fifty states.

This year, thanks to the National Endowment of the Humanities, we are able to offer teachers the hardcover edition of World War I and America, which brings together brings together 127 eyewitness accounts of battlefront and homefront by nearly ninety soldiers, airmen, nurses, diplomats, statesmen, political activists, journalists, and others. From Sarajevo and the invasion of Belgium through the League of Nations debate and the racial violence and political repression that divided postwar America, these writings illuminate, as no retrospective history can, how Americans perceived and felt about the war, why they supported or opposed intervention, how they endured the nightmarish reality of modern industrial warfare, and how they experienced the uncertainty and contingency of unfolding events.

In addition, thanks to the generosity of LOA donors and members, we can send teachers the paperback edition of Reporting World War II, which showcases the work of more than fifty journalists—the best of a remarkable generation of reporters—who reported on the war in newspaper dispatches, magazine articles, radio transcripts, and books. Here are William L. Shirer and Howard K. Smith inside Nazi Germany; Edward R. Murrow on the London Blitz and Buchenwald; Ernie Pyle on the war in the foxholes. Margaret Bourke-White flies over the lines in Italy; Robert Sherrod and Tom Lea record the horrors of the Pacific war; Janet Flanner and Martha Gellhorn examine a defeated Germany. On the homefront, E. B. White visits a bond rally, James Agee reviews newsreels, and Roi Ottley exposes racism in the military. Included in full is Hiroshima, John Hersey’s classic account of the first atomic bombing and its aftermath.

Secondary school teachers of history and social studies who wish to receive World War I and America and Reporting World War II should:

• Send an email from your school (or school district) email address to

• Indicate the name of the school where you teach.

• Tell us the grade level(s) and subject(s) you teach.

• Include your mailing address (home addresses are acceptable; U.S. addresses only).

Please note: Supplies are limited. Requests will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis, and we can only send one copy of each book to each teacher. We plan to mail the books in June.

We’re thrilled to be able to continue this program for another year and to provide, free of charge to teachers throughout the United States, these essential primary documents from America’s two great cataclysms of the last century.

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